Posts tagged with ‘Jacksons

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“Lookin’ Through The Windows (Live at the Forum)” – Jackson 5

Excerpt from Live at the Forum – Disc 2 (1972)

Today’s Forum story:

 “Ben” was the Jackson story of summer 1972 – for a solo Michael. Jermaine also had his solo debut, with “That’s The Way Love Goes,” taken from his self-titled LP, which was promoted ahead of the group and Michael on Soul Train in October. (Look for the clip – check the huge sign hanging over the bandstand.) The “other” single was this one, released June 23, 1972, and, while seemingly forgotten now, it was a top 5 Soul chart and top 20 Pop chart hit. The J5 performed “Windows” on TV in July, then again about two weeks after the Forum show they appeared on the Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour.

 Clifton Davis, who had previously delivered “Never Can Say Goodbye,” wrote “Windows.” The original recording had an unusual arrangement – complete with a percussive riff subconsciously lifted from Isaac Hayes’ “Shaft” that the J5 rhythm section had no trouble recreating onstage. The brothers also brilliantly handled the sophisticated vocal arrangement laid out on the original by John Bahler. John and his brother Tom, who later wrote MJ’s “She’s Out Of My Life,” often helped out with vocal arrangements in the group’s latter Motown days.

 Suzee Ikeda, A&R assistant to producer Hal Davis, remembered how Michael, Jermaine, Marlon, Tito and Jackie enjoyed recording the studio vocals, even cutting the lead and backgrounds in the same afternoon. “They were so happy and inspired, they finished it in one of the fastest vocal sessions I can recall,” she said.

Friday: MJ does JB

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"Ben (Live at the Forum)" - Michael Jackson (J5)

Excerpt from Live at the Forum - Disc 2 (1972)

Today’s Forum story:

  By the late August 1972 show at the L.A. Forum, Michael Jackson had three solo hits, all taken from his debut LP: “Got To Be There,” “Rockin’ Robin” and “I Wanna Be Where You Are,” which MJ announced at the show as “released as a single right now,” although by then it was on its way down the charts. The hot new Jackson family record at the time was “Ben,” the theme song to a movie about a rat and the title track to Michael’s second solo album.

 “Ben” in every way it should not have worked. But Michael made it work; his sincerity and soul permeated the record - a testament to his instincts and art.

 Then there is this live version from the Forum. The first half has no background vocals – and this being a J5 show from early in the decade, no strings, horns or video screens, either. Just MJ backed by the sparest arrangement and, except for the occasional scream (“Sing It, Michael!”), a hushed crowd. Bared, Michael is tentative at first, then more confident, and by the time his brothers join him in harmony, you just may forget about the studio version.

Wednesday: ‘Look’ for the other J5 single from summer ’72

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“Stand!” and “Stand! (Reprise)” – Jackson 5 (some of them, anyway)

From the 1970 Forum show

WEEKEND ADDENDUM: While you soak up the story below, here is a way to hear - and see! - the Jackson 5 perform "Stand!" a few months before the Forum show. Like “Thank You Falettinme…” and "Sing A Simple Song," it’s another J5 cover of a great Sly & the Family Stonesong. (Enjoy the links with your BBQ.)

Today’s Forum story…. is all about the J5’s regular opening number that somehow does not open the new Live At The Forum album.

  Astute fans, like J5Collector, noticed right away that “Stand!,” the group’s regular opening number, was missing from the track list when the Forum album release was first announced. Its exclusion was a by-product of the 1970 show’s technical difficulties – Jermaine’s vocal mic was off, his bass amp was inaudible, and the show had to be stopped for several minutes while the sound crew scrambled to fix everything.

 Imagine! Their big moment, ready for lift-off, the crowd ready to explode – and instead the Jackson 5 had to stand by. Their family was waiting in the audience; Motown execs were fuming; the crowd, after waiting through two opening acts, had begun to creep toward the stage. During the break the emcee, KJLH disc jockey Rick Holmes, encouraged calm while offering J5 trivia: Jackie had graduated high school the day before. The J5 then tried “Stand!” again, to no avail.

 Loyal fans, today you can hear a brief representation of the first, fumbling “Stand!,” followed by the full reprise. Listen carefully to the fadeout: a helpful audience member pleads, “Sing ‘I Want You Back’!”

 Which the band did. But there were still some issues with Jermaine’s amp; notice the difference in the bass sound between this and the 1972 show. MJ pointed out the remaining problem at the end of “I Want You Back” – pretty bold for an 11-year-old, or an artist of any age, on his first major tour. It’s fascinating that he didn’t comment off-mic; he said “What’s wrong with his amp?” loud enough for the entire Forum to hear. And he didn’t follow up with another question. He stated “You don’t know” with withering authority, befitting a full-grown man with years of onstage experience. Young Michael’s months of watching the greats at Motown had provided him with a key truth: if you’re going to do it, do it well.

Happy July 4th! 

Monday: More MJ solo.

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“I Want You Back (Live at the Forum)” – Jackson 5

Excerpt from Live at the Forum – Disc 1 (1970)

Today’s Forum story:

 It was the Jackson 5’s first hit. Still one of the greatest intros of all time – that’s Jazz Crusader Joe Sample playing piano on the studio version – and a vocal performance to match… from an 11-year-old.

 Michael was still 11 and somehow even more energetic when the Jackson 5 began their first major tour behind the single’s No. 1 success – a success matched by “ABC” and, by the time of the 1970 Forum show, “The Love You Save.” As heard in this clip he was seemingly undaunted by the show’s technical problems and the hysteria that swelled before the band hit its first note.

 “I Want You Back” was by itself in this set; it had to be part of a medley within a year. Its famous intro, as heard on the full disc 1, is actually a little ragged live – the band had to regroup after a botched opening number (check back in a couple of days for a post on the topic) – but within a few bars they were off to the races. And, ladies, there’s always Jermaine.

Tomorrow: More Jermaine

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“Don’t Know Why I Love You (Live at the Forum)” – Jackson 5

Excerpt from Live at the Forum – Disc 1 (1970)

 Today’s Forum story:

 As mentioned, the Jackson 5 recorded several cover versions for their first two albums and performed quite a few of them on their first national tour. “Don’t Know Why I Love You” was a hidden gem by the J5 on their ABC album that became an unexpected tour-de-force for Michael at the Forum show; dig how the backgrounds come in, too. It was one of three cover versions of Stevie Wonder songs they’d cut by then; the other two were “My Cherie Amour” (on the first album) and “Never Had A Dream Come True” (on ABC).

 Stevie’s original “Don’t Know Why I Love You” first appeared on his album For Once In My Life – as “I Don’t Know Why” – then was picked as a single in January 1969, when the title was switched. The single’s B-side was a new song: “My Cherie Amour.” Don’t Know Why” hit the top 40, but was overshadowed by the runaway success of the flip side.

 A 5ive footnote for fans: “My Cherie Amour” was originally in the Jackson 5 live set, as – surprisingly – the second song performed at the Philly show, right after “Stand!” By the Forum show it was dropped in favor of the “other side,” and “I Want You Back” was moved up from fourth.

Tomorrow: “Don’t wanna let you go…”

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"Ain’t No Sunshine (Live at the Forum)” – Michael Jackson (Jackson 5)

Excerpt from Live at the Forum – Disc 2 (1972)

Today’s Forum story… is not strictly about the Forum, or a song recorded at the Forum. But it is about a performance so complete it had to be included in the Forum album:

 The original “Ain’t No Sunshine” marked the debut of singer-songwriter Bill Withers, from Slab Fork, W. Virginia. Withers’ single was a big hit in the late spring and summer of 1971, at the moment Michael was prepping his own solo debut. MJ’s version of it was selected as one of the five cover songs for the Got To Be There LP; it, in fact, led off the album when issued in January ‘72. Bill was 20 years older than 13-year-old MJ at the time. But as we heard with Michael’s performance of “Who’s Lovin’ You” – and just about anything else he took on – age hardly mattered.

 Michael’s “Ain’t No Sunshine,” with an edgy arrangement and an original spoken-word intro, was not a single in the U.S. but a popular album cut. It was issued as a single in the U.K. in July 1972 and went top ten pop there – beating out Withers’ “Lean On Me” – and its chart success added to the excitement of the J5’s four shows in England in November.

 As noted in the CD booklet, “Sunshine” was not performed at the Forum in L.A. It was added to?/tried out in?/restored to? the set in San Diego the next night, two days before MJ’s 14th birthday, when the group played the International Sports Arena, a fact discovered during the research stages of the album, when we were looking for every possible piece of J5 live tape. The L.A. show had the edge in terms of history, drama and energy, but it didn’t have “Ain’t No Sunshine”: one of those jaw-dropping performances, with young MJ stretching his soul over a risky, long arrangement, a moment that reached beyond satisfying the screaming fans who’d come to hear the hits. You can’t go back the studio version the same way ever again.

 It had to be in this album. During production there was a conversation about adding San Diego’s “Sunshine” as a bonus track – after the end of the Forum show – but that diluted the excitement of hearing it in the set. So, like many, many live albums, we added an “outside” performance to the overall set; unlike most live albums we did no other edits (except to close up occasional between-song pauses that are a drag listening to at home), no overdubs, no auto-tuning, no added applause.


Tomorrow: Another emotional cover version, from the 1970 show

P.S. Anyone catch full tracks from the album being previewed on NYC’s No. 1 radio station today? Thank you, Pat St. John.

429 plays


“It’s Your Thing (Live at the Forum)” – Jackson 5

Excerpt from Live at the Forum – Disc 1 (1970)

Today’s Forum Story:

 In 1970, with Jacksonmania exploding, the group had to tour, although the need to get out on the road overwhelmed the actual material available to perform – by the spring of 1970 the J5 had, what, two albums? So their set list, highlighted by already classic hits, was filled out with not just album tracks but quite a few cover tunes they hadn’t released themselves, including this one, a No. 1 smash by the Isley Brothers from the year before. The clip starts just after the first bit of stage dialogue, where MJ has been cracking on the musicians. (That’s Marlon with Michael.)

 The Isley’s original version had peaked in April-May 1969. That is just about the time the J5 were beginning their first recording dates at Motown Records, in Detroit, at Studio A, under the watchful eye of their Motown tutor Bobby Taylor and with the Funk Brothers backing them up.  (“It’s Your Thing,” coincidentally, was by all accounts a response to the restrictive atmosphere the Isleys felt they were under while signed to Motown.) The song became part of the J5’s repertoire, a showcase for Michael and Marlon to dance and jive on stage; they were seen performing the song in August ’69 during the (rarely) televised Miss Black America pageant.

 Bobby Taylor, seemingly ousted from the group’s production team by that time, returned to an L.A. studio in Feb. 1970 to produce a studio version of “It’s Your Thing” – a super funky cut that, despite being in the Jackson 5’s stage show for a while, stayed in the vault for 25 years. And this live version is being heard for the first time in 40 years!

Tomorrow: MJ channels Bill Withers in a stunning moment from the album

469 plays


“ABC (Live at the Forum)” – Jackson 5

Excerpt from Live at the Forum – Disc 1 (1970)

 Today’s Forum story:

“ABC” had peaked at No. 1 about two months prior to the first Forum show.

Once again, MJ’s interplay with Jermaine is dynamite. Tito’s guitar lines, funky.

And just listen to that young man’s delight.

Not much more to say.

Tomorrow: “Just call my name…”